But each day when she walks to the sea, she looks straight ahead, not at me. The Girl from Ipanema
C’est la plus vieille histoire du monde. La jolie fille passe et les hommes surgissent de partout, tombent des arbres, sifflent et deviennent fous, et elle, elle passe tranquillement son chemin. C’est universel. Norman Gimbel
Il m’aimait et m’a causé beaucoup de confusion, mais finalement nous nous sommes retrouvés comme amis dans une relation pleine d’affection et de gratitude. (…) Ma vie a changé quand ils ont révélé que j’étais leur inspiration. Je ne les croyais pas, mais ça m’a fait quelque chose émotionnellement et il m’a fallu un certain temps pour en comprendre l’importance. (…) J’étais très timide, je n’ai jamais répondu à ses compliments. J’allais au bar juste pour acheter des cigarettes pour mes parents ou je passais devant pour profiter de mes jours de repos au soleil. (…) J’avais été élevée dans une famille très stricte et traditionaliste. Mon père était militaire et ça ne lui plaisait pas que je sois devenue le point de mire de la presse mondiale et des hommes mûrs. Helô Pinheiro
Même la fameuse « fille d’Ipanema », immortalisée dans la chanson de bossa nova, écrite en 1962, illustre les différences culturelles qui prévalaient alors : il n’y a que dans les paroles en anglais qu’elle est « grande et bronzée et jeune et belle ». Dans la version originale portugaise, l’accent est mis sur « le doux swing » de ses hanches et de ses fesses alors qu’elle se promène en un balancement décrit comme « plus qu’un poème, la plus belle chose que j’ai jamais vu ». Le New York Times
Helô était à l’époque l’une des très rares filles de la plage d’Ipanema à porter un maillot de bain deux pièces. De nos jours, quand on pense aux plages de Rio, on pense aux « fils dentaires » ou aux « sparadraps« , il est difficile d’imaginer qu’il fut un temps où un maillot de bain deux pièces modeste qui exposait à peine le nombril était considéré comme audacieux. Mais Rio était alors différent et c’était certainement pas la Côte d’Azur où le bikini était à la mode. Lorsque, malgré l’opposition de de Moraes, les concours de la « Girl from Ipanema » ont continué, les filles qui y participaient savaient qu’elles étaient comparées à une jeune fille qui portait un maillot de bain deux pièces. Alors elles savaient qu’elles devaient faire preuve d’audace. La même audace dont avait fait preuve une première fois Helô, puis, comme les concours continuaient, plus d’audace encore que la gagnante de l’année précédente. Et plus les filles étaient audacieuses, plus les maillots rétrécissaient. Ainsi, l’évolution du bikini brésilien et du string remonte-t-elle directement à ce concours et donc à nouveau à la jeune Heloísa. (…) En 2001, Helô Pinheiro ouvrit sa boutique « Garota de Ipanema » à Sao Paolo, destinée principalement aux femmes et offrant une variété de maillots de bain. Un des produits qu’elle proposait était un tee-shirt imprimé avec la musique et les paroles de la chanson. Comme il s’agissait d’une copie de la partition originale, il comportait également les signatures de Vinicius de Moraes et de A. C. Jobim. Les héritiers portèrent plainte arguant du fait que les paroles et la musique appartenaient à la succession et que tout l’argent de la vente de ces tee-shirts appartenaient aux familles de Moraes et de Jobim. Heureusement pour nous, les romantiques, les tribunaux brésiliens prirent la bonne décision. En février 2004, la Cour statua en faveur de Helô Pinheiro indiquant .. « sans elle il n’y aurait pas eu de chanson ». Sran Shepkowski
La mariée était tout simplement trop jeune.
Fille de général des quartiers huppés de Rio, épouse et mère modèle convertie par la crise en mannequin puis actrice de soap opera, femme d’affaires, organisatrice de concours de beauté et enfin animatrice d’émission santé pour les seniors, sans compter les photos pour Playboy et le procès (par les héritiers des musiciens) pour utilisation non autorisée de son surnom pour ses boutiques de maillots de bain …
Encore un anniversaire raté (redécouvert seulement aujourd’hui sur le site du WSJ) …
Celui de la fameuse « fille d’Ipanema » qui, à 17 ans à peine, faisait il y a 50 ans déjà tourner les têtes …
Poussant les inventeurs de la bossa nova Jobim et de Moraes (leurs 18 ans d’écart) à écrire la 2e chanson, après « Yesterday » des Beatles, la plus reprise de l’histoire …
Et, plus récemment, le NYT à y voir la trace de l’acculturation américaine du Brésil (le « grande et bronzée et jeune et belle » de la version anglaise ayant prétendument déplacé l’accent de la version originale en portugais sur le « doux swing » de ses hanches et de ses fesses ?) …
Sauf que du haut de son 1 m 72 si l’on en croit les photos et même si elle se trouvait trop maigre, la naïade de l’époque n’avait rien à envier à nos actuelles Gisele Bünchen …
Et que le refus de la belle qui contribua peut-être sans le vouloir au lancement de la mode de la minceur et des micro-bikinis brésiliens que l’on connait ressemblait plus à la compréhensible hésitation, face aux avances d’un homme plus de deux fois son âge (et de surcroit marié avec deux enfants!), d’une très jeune fille de 17 ans …
Brazil Music News
August 2, 2012
RIO DE JANEIRO – “Girl From Ipanema” hit the airwaves 50 years ago and the song’s muse, Helô Pinheiro, recalls how the song changed her life. Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes a wrote “Garota de Ipanema,” or “Girl from Ipanema,” in 1962 while drinking whiskey at the Veloso Bar in Ipanema.
‘Girl from Ipanema’ Released 50 Years Ago
Now 67, Pinheiro says that she had to rush her marriage to appease the jealousy of her boyfriend when he heard that she had been the muse for Jobim and de Moraes. The “Girl” of flesh and bone told EFE in a recent interview that her then-boyfriend and current husband wanted to confront the songwriters, although “in the end we all became friends.”
The muse confesses that her boyfriend had reason for jealousy because Tom asked her “several times” for her hand in marriage, despite the 18-year difference between them. “He loved me and caused me a lot of confusion, but eventually we ended up as friends in a relationship filled with affection and gratitude,” she said.
“My life changed when they revealed that I was their inspiration. I didn’t believe them, but it moved me emotionally and it took me some time to understand the significance,” said Helô, who had so dazzled the creators of Bossa Nova.
In 1962, Jobim and Vinicius spent hours as dedicated whiskey refugees in the Veloso Bar, on old Montenegro Street (now Rua Vinicius de Moraes) in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Each day, a sweet, shy 16-year-old girl, who would pass by the bar each day on her way to and from the beach, mesmerized the two songwriters.
Fifty years after that scene in Ipanema, Helô is an entrepreneur and broadcaster who presents a health program for seniors. Five decades on, the Girl from Ipanema still retains the spontaneity and elegance that fascinated the masters of Brazilian music for half a century.
“I was very shy, I never responded to his compliments. I only went into the bar to buy cigarettes for my parents or walked past to enjoy my days off sunning myself,” she said.
“Girl from Ipanema”, released on August 2nd, 1962, was the quintessential Carioca song. It was an instant success and gained true international fame when, three years later, some American artists released an English version.
At the time, many young women appeared and proclaimed themselves the “Girl from Ipanema,” explains Helô. But all that ended when Vinicius published a letter naming the real inspiration for his best known work.
“I was raised in a very strict and conservative family. My father was military and he did not like that I had become a focus of worldwide press and the target of older-men’s eyes,” she recalled.
The Bossa Nova is the soundtrack of her life and “Girl from Ipanema” is now her cellular ring-tone. Eventually, Helô became a soap-opera actress, beauty-pageant organizer and businesswoman.
At the height of her fame, she posed for the magazine “Playboy.” She posed for the magazine again ten years ago, next to her then 24-year-old daughter.
Helô said that the worst moment for her came in 2001, when the heirs of Jobim and Vinicius sued her for commercially exploiting the name “Girl from Ipanema,” which she uses in her clothing store.
The heirs and Helô resolved the conflict last year, but the episode, she says, caused her “an economic and psychological injury.”
The endlessly covered Brazilian song turns 50 this year. What explains its quirky endurance?
The Wall Street Journal
July 2, 2012
Before 1962, if John Q. Nobody gave any thought to South America at all, it probably didn’t range much beyond banana republics, fugitive Nazis and Carmen Miranda. That changed 50 years ago this summer when a tall and tan and young and lovely goddess was born.
She was « The Girl From Ipanema. »
Like a handful of other international crossover hits (« Day-O » from Jamaica, « Down Under » from Australia), « The Girl From Ipanema » pretty much put an entire country’s music and ethos on the map. In this case, the land was Brazil, the genre was bossa nova, and the atmosphere was uniquely exotic and elusive—a seductive tropical cocktail « just like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gently, » as the lyrics go.
‘The Girl From Ipanema,’ the classic Brazilian bossa sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Dionne Warwick, is the second most recorded song in pop music history. It turns 50 this summer, and here is a look back at its history.
At the time, bossa nova wasn’t exactly unknown in the U.S., as shown by the Grammy-winning success of « Desafinado » from the 1962 album « Jazz Samba » by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. But « The Girl From Ipanema » (« Garota de Ipanema » in the original Portuguese) was something else altogether. Not only was it one of the last great gasps of pre-Beatles easy listening, it was an entire culture in miniature.
« To the layperson, ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ sounds like ‘a nice song,’ » says the Brazilian-American guitarist and musical director Manny Moreira. « But to the trained ear it is perfection. »
In the half-century since its genesis, « The Girl From Ipanema » has become inescapable. According to Performing Songwriter magazine, it is the second-most-recorded pop tune ever, surpassed only by « Yesterday. » Sammy Davis Jr. sang it on « I Dream of Jeannie »; it is part of the repertoire of the Yale Whiffenpoofs.
And, yes, it has become archetypal Muzak. Get put on hold often enough, wander through enough retail stores or tacky cocktail lounges, and sooner or later its limpid strains will caress you. At the climax of the 1980 movie « The Blues Brothers, » hundreds of gun-toting police officers, state troopers and other riotous authority figures scramble after John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as they calmly ride a Chicago City Hall elevator while being soothed by a piped-in instrumental version.
Clearly, this is art for the ages. But why?
One reason is the girl of the title. The embodiment of sultry pulchritude, she is also utterly unobtainable: « But each day when she walks to the sea/She looks straight ahead, not at me. »
« It’s the oldest story in the world, » says Norman Gimbel, who wrote the English lyrics. « The beautiful girl goes by, and men pop out of manholes and fall out of trees and are whistling and going nuts, and she just keeps going by. That’s universal. »
So reasoned composer Antônio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinícius de Moraes five decades ago. Stalled on a number for a musical called « Blimp, » they sought inspiration at the Veloso, a seaside cafe in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. There they remembered a local teenager, the 5-foot-8-inch, dark-haired, green-eyed Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, whom they often saw walking to the beach or entering the bar to buy cigarettes for her mother. And so they penned a paean to a vision.
Originally crooned by the popular Brazilian singer Pery Ribeiro (who died in February), « Garota de Ipanema » went over well enough in its home country. Then the U.S. music publisher Lou Levy asked Mr. Gimbel to devise an English cover. With Mr. Jobim on piano, Stan Getz on sax, João Gilberto on guitar and Portuguese vocals, and Mr. Gilberto’s wife, Astrud, handling English vocals, the U.S. version was cut for the album « Getz/Gilberto » in March 1963.
While Mr. Gilberto’s soft Portuguese sets the tone for the song, it is his wife’s English response that still captivates after all this time. By all rights, it shouldn’t. Although Astrud could speak the language, her delivery was decidedly unpolished. « Before the recording, I had never sung professionally, » she says on her website—and you can hear it. Often she emphasizes the wrong sounds and seems to be enunciating phonetically. Her very first word, « tall, » comes across as « doll. » Contrary to Mr. Gimbel’s lyrics, she sings, « She looks straight ahead not at he. » It was supposed to be « me. »
« I was tearing my hair out when I learned that later, » Mr. Gimbel says. « It upset me no end. »
But when combined with her tentative delivery, Mr. Getz’s breathy sax and Mr. Jobim’s gentle piano, the errors make the result ever so slightly foreign—just out of reach, like the girl herself, and thus irresistible.
« The Girl From Ipanema » went on to win the Grammy for record of the year in 1965 and was guaranteed immortality that same year when Heloísa was revealed as its inspiration. Today, as Helo Pinheiro, still stunning at 66, she is a local celebrity, happy to give interviews and pose for photos. Unlike her ethereal counterpart, she is personable indeed.
And that, perhaps, is ultimate reason why the song endures: The remote, mythic beauty—the impossible dream—turned out to be as real as you or me.
—Mr. Vinciguerra is the editor of « Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs From the New Yorker. »
It’s a song of sensuality that entices men everywhere to dream. It evokes the fantasy of an exotic beach where warm waves kiss the shore, where breezes whisper through the palms, and where there is a woman, a dream woman, an ideal woman who embodies the elusive essence of everything that is desirable.
The Girl from Ipanema was awarded the 1964 Grammy as Best Song of the Year, it ranks 21st on BMI’s list of most performed songs of all time, and is one of the most recorded songs in history, having been vocalized by Astrid Gilberto, Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Madonna, Cher, and many others. While its credentials are impressive, the real fascination is the story behind the song and the girl who inspired it.
The year 1962 was a banner year for Antonio Carlos « Tom » Jobim. The Brazilian songwriter’s tune, Desafinado, had just been recorded by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd and the attention of the Jazz world shifted to the 35 year old Jobim, who, at the end of the year, was invited to perform his music at Carnegie Hall with Byrd, Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Joao Gilberto. This was the latest achievement in a career that took shape in 1958 when Jobim collaborated with guitarist/vocalist Joao Gilberto, vocalist Elizete Cardoso and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes to produce a set of recordings, one of which was Chega de Saudade, which proved to be the beginning of the « Bossa Nova » (« New Trend ») movement.
1962 was also the year that Jobim saw the girl.
Ipanema is a trendy, rather artsy neighborhood in south Rio de Janeiro. To the west is the upscale area of Leblon and to the east is Aproador and Copacabana. A block off Ipanema Beach, on the northwest corner of Rua Montenegro and Rua Prudente de Moraes was Tom Jobim’s favorite hang-out, the Bar Veloso. A veranda-style, open-air cafe, this was the place to drink beer, smoke cigarettes, read the paper, chat with friends, and watch the pretty girls.
Almost every day a certain girl passed by the Veloso. Often in her school uniform, sometimes in her two-piece bathing suit she was, of course, tall, and tan, and young and lovely with long brown hair and green eyes and a rather sensual way of swaying her hips. She did not go unnoticed by Jobim and friends who often greeted her with whistles and cat-calls. The girl, however, never responded to the men. Never did she stop to talk; indeed never did she even make eye contact with bar’s patrons. Each day when she walked to the sea, she looked straight ahead, not at anyone else. And Jobim was in love.
Basically a shy man, Jobim was afraid to approach the girl. At the time he was married with two children and knew he had to be at least twice her age, but that did not prevent a budding infatuation. Eventually he convinced his old lyricist buddy Vinicius de Moraes to come by the Veloso to see this girl. After several days of waiting the girl finally walked past. Jobim remarked “ »Nao a coisa mais linda? » (Isn’t she the prettiest thing?), to which de Moraes replied, « E a coisa cheia de gracia. » (She’s full of grace.). This sparked the creativity in de Moraes who wrote those two lines on a napkin. The lines provided the basis for the opening two lines of the original, Portuguese version of A Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema).
Jobim and de Moraes were, at the time, collaborating on the music and lyrics for a play entitled “Blimp” so it took some time to complete the song. Originally titled Menina que Passa (Girl Who Passes), Jobim first performed the song in Rio on August 12, 1962. It was a shoo-in to be part of a Jazz album being put together by Verve Records with Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto featuring some of Jobim’s music. In March, 1963, Tom and Joao flew up to New York to record the album. They also took along Joao’s wife Astrid because she was the only one who spoke any English.
At the recording studio it was decided that Menina que Passa needed a more Rio sounding title so it was changed to A Garota de Ipanema. Also, producer Creed Taylor felt the song should have English lyrics. Fortunately, the group had met lyricist Norman Gimbel from BMI several months before when they played Carnegie Hall and it was Gimbel who wrote the English lyrics. The next task was to find someone to sing those English lyrics. There is some dispute as to how it was decided, but Joao’s wife, Astrid, was selected to sing because, although she never sang professionally, she had a soft sexy voice, she could hold a tune, and at least she could pronounce the English words.
When the album was released in 1964 under the title “Getz/Gilberto” by Verve Records the first cut on the album was “The Girl from Ipanema”. It featured Joao Gilberto strumming his guitar and singing the original Portuguese lyrics followed by Astrid Gilberto with the English lyrics. Track 9 was the 45 rpm release of the Astrid Gilberto English version and track 10 was the flip-side of the 45; another of Jobim’s music entitled “Corcovada”.
Back home in Rio, the song was an instant success. Brazil was the midst of an economic recovery and, having won the last two World Cups, the country was riding high. The international success of “The Girl from Ipanema” was another example of the miracle that was Brazil. That miracle was to end two years later when economic mismanagement, corruption, and a military dictatorship took over, but in the meantime Brazil was young and hopeful.
As can be imagined, the big question in Ipanema was the identity of the inspiration for the song. Jobim and de Moraes remained mysterious on the subject. Some people believed there was no real girl, only the creation of a poet’s imagination. Others thought they knew better; many women flattered themselves, claiming to be THE GIRL. A cottage industry even grew. All you had to do was take some pictures of a pretty girl and sell them to dumb tourists claiming the girl in the picture was THE GIRL.
Heloísa Eneida de Menezes Paes Pinto was a born and raised Rio de Janeiro girl – a true carioca. The daughter of an army general from whom her mother divorced when Helô was 4, she grew up on the Rua Montenegro, some blocks up from the Bar Veloso. At age 17 she was shy and quite self-conscious: she had crooked teeth, she felt she was too skinny, she suffered from frequent asthma attacks, and she had an allergy that reddened her face. And on her way to and from school and on her treks to the beach, she had to walk by the Bar Veloso.
Although the song had been around since 1962, it wasn’t until 1964 that Helô learned the truth. Friends introduced her to Tom Jobim, who still hadn’t worked up the courage to talk with her. But with the ice finally broken, he set out to win her heart. On their second date, he stated his love for her and asked her to marry him. But she turned him down. Two things got in the way. Helô knew Tom was married and that he was “experienced”, whereas she was inexperienced and would not make him a good wife. The other was that she had been dating a handsome young lad named Fernando Pinheiro from a prosperous family in Leblon since she was 15. Undaunted by her refusal, Tom told her that she was the inspiration for the song. This confirmed the rumors she had heard from others and, of course, thrilled her beyond imagination, but she still turned him down.
The world would not learn the truth until 1965. Tired of all the gossip and particularly concerned that a contest was going to be held to select “the girl from Ipanema” Vinicius de Moraes held a press conference. In a detoxification clinic in Rio where he was undergoing treatment (you’ve got to love poets), and with Helô at his side, de Moraes told the world. And he offered her one more testament:
« She is a golden girl, a mixture of flowers and mermaids, full of light and full of grace, but whose character is also sad with the feeling that youth passes and that beauty isn’t ours to keep. She is the gift of life with its beautiful and melancholic constant ebb and flow. »
Immediately she became a sensation. Offers of movie stardom, modeling contracts, and trips around the world came. Unfortunately for her, however, this was the sixties, this was macho Brazil, and she was a good girl.
In her 1996 autobiography, “Por Causa do Amor”, she writes: “The middle class philosophy was to discourage and even repress any attempts to do anything other than bringing up children and being the perfect housewife”. Fernando, to whom she was recently engaged, and her army general father refused to allow her, at age 21, to leave home. Being a loving fiancée and an obedient daughter she had no choice. She had to turn down all offers.
It may be difficult today to believe that someone would turn down certain fame and fortune to be a housewife, but times were different. In 1960 less than 12% of all jobs in Brazil were held by women and only 20% of all college students were women. The machismo rule was in effect. Remember, this is the country where, until 1991, it was legal for a man to kill his wife if he thought she was cheating on him.
So Helô married Fernando Pinheiro in 1966 and settled in to live the life of the perfect housewife. Twelve years later, however, things changed.
1978 was the pivotal year for Helô Pinheiro and her family because of two misfortunes. The first was that because the military government relaxed its trade laws causing increased foreign imports, her husband’s iron and steel business failed, the family lost its money, and Fernando was without a job. The second was the birth of her fourth child, Fernando Jr. who suffered from numerous medical problems.
Realizing her financial obligations, she turned to the only asset she had. “I never wanted to use it that way”, she said. “It was a romantic thing, a gift of love. I never wanted to commercialize it. Out of respect I didn’t want to exploit it”. But she had no choice. The girl from Ipanema was back.
The modeling assignments and TV appearances soon came. She became a radio talk-show host and a gossip columnist. Soon she opened her own modeling agency, began organizing beauty pageants, and attached her endorsement to over 100 different products.
Her name, her charm, and her hard work eventually gained her success. “You move mountains”, she said, “…when it comes to providing for your children”.
She has relaxed a bit now that her children are grown. Helô and Fernando live in Sao Paolo with their son Fernando Jr who suffers from serious learning difficulties. Her daughter Kiki is a former model turned business-woman, daughter Georgiani is a psychologist, and daughter Ticiane is a very successful super-model. Helô’s main occupation these days centers on her Garota de Ipanema boutiques in Sao Paolo and Rio where she sells a variety a women’s beachwear. And at the age of “you do the math” Helô is still a looker. She and Ticiane appeared in a photo shoot in the March 2003 issue of the Brazilian Playboy magazine.
In the sixties, Helô was the icon of Brazilian femininity. Today she is an example of it. Whereas in 1960 when less than 12% of the workforce was female, today it is over 40%, and 2/5s of those women earn more than their spouses. Of course, the typical Brazilian woman earns only 66% that of her male counterpart (in the US that average is 76%). A full 50% of Brazilian women have jobs today. Both Brazil and Helô Paes Pinto have come a long way since those innocent days back in the early sixties.
Helô was one of the very few girls on Ipanema beach to wear a two-piece swimsuit. Nowadays, when we think of the beaches of Rio we think of butt-floss and band-aids so it is difficult to think there was a time when a modest two-piece swimsuit that barely exposed the navel was considered daring. But Rio was different then, and it certainly was not the French Riviera where the bikini was in style. When the “Girl from Ipanema” contests that de Moraes reacted against continued, the girls who took part knew they were being compared to a girl who wore a two-piece swimsuit. So they knew they had to become daring. As daring as Helô at first, then more daring than the previous year’s winner as the contests continued. The more daring the girls became, the skimpier the swimsuits became. The evolution of the Brazilian bikini and the string bikini is traced directly back to this contest and therefore back to the youthful Heloísa.
The 45 rpm release of The Girl from Ipanema was, according to Billboard, the fifth best selling song in the world in 1964 (the other four were Beatle songs) and was awarded the Grammy as best song of the year. According to a 1996 United Kingdom Channel 4 production “Without Walls: The Girl from Ipanema” that recording is the fifth most played record in the history of the world.
There are various stories as to how Astrid Gilberto was selected to sing the English version. One is that Astrid claims it was her husband, Joao, who argued that she should sing the English version because he was singing the Portuguese version, another story is that it was Stan Getz’s wife Monica who convinced Joao, Getz, and Jobim to let Astrid to sing it, and a third story is that Stan Getz himself insisted on Astrid over everybody else’s objections. It is interesting to note that because she was a non-professional and, therefore, not under any contract, Astrid Gilberto was never paid for this recording. She did not receive one red cent, nor, I guess, was she entitled to any payment. This recording did launch her successful career as a singer, but still, you’d think she should get something for being the vocalist for one of the most popular songs of all time.
The Getz / Gilberto album released by Verve Records stayed on the pop charts for 96 weeks and won four Grammys.
The very first performance of A Garota de Ipanema (then named Menina que Passa) was on August 12, 1962 at the Au Bon Gourmet restaurant on the Avenida Nossa Senhora in Copacabana and featured Tom Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, Joao Gilberto, Otavio Bailly, Milton Banana, and the vocal group Os Cariocas.
The Bossa Nova craze that began in the late fifties ended rather quickly in the middle sixties. In the atmosphere of a military coup in Brazil and the war in Viet Nam, its light, lyrical and melodic sounds lost out to hard driving beats and the sounds of protest. Perhaps the downfall of the Bossa Nova began when it came to the United States. In the early sixties record companies were looking for the latest dance craze. The Twist, the Watusi, and other fads were making money for the record industry. When the Bossa Nova came, the thought was to make it into another dance fad. So songs like Blame It On The Bossa Nova by Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme and Bossa Nova Baby by Elvis Presley were produced. These were not Bossa Nova. Bossa Nova is a soft sophisticated sound meant for vocal and instrumental interpretations, not for Las Vegas lounge acts. You listen to the Bossa Nova sound, you don’t rock to it on a dance floor. American commercialism miss-named its songs and in doing so relegated a new Jazz form to realm of the lounge-lizards.
The Bar Veloso has since changed its name to “A Garota de Ipanema”. The name of the North/South street the café is on has also changed from the Rua Montenegro to the Rua Vinicius de Moraes. Consequently the bar Garota de Ipanema is on the corner of Rua Vinicius de Moraes and Rua Prudente de Moraes. Helô’s store is to the north, next door on the Rua Vinicius de Moraes. Also, extensive construction on the Rua Prudente de Moraes took place in the seventies and early eighties so you can no longer see the beach from the bar.
The 1958 album made by Jobim, de Moraes, and Joao Gilberto that launched the Bossa Nova movement was released on the old 78 rpm records.
Tom Jobim’s full name is Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim.
Joao Gilberto’s full name is João Gilberto do Prado Pereira de Oliveira.
Stan Getz’s real name is Stanley Gayetsky.
Vinicius de Moraes full name is Marcus Vinicius da Cruz de Mello Moraes.
In 1966, Frank Sinatra came up with the idea of recording an album with Tom Jobim. To get a hold of Jobim to talk about it, the first place he called was the Bar Veloso. Tom was there. The result of their collaboration was the 1967 release of “Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim”.
Tom Jobim served as best man when Helô married Fernando Pinheiro.
In 1976, at age 49, Tom Jobim took up with a 19 year old photographer named Ana Beatriz Lontra who he married in 1986. It has been strongly suggested that Ana, at age 19, looked an awful lot like the young Helô. (I wish I could find a picture)
Norman Gimbel (born 1927 in Brooklyn) is a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame who has Grammys for the lyrics to The Girl From Ipanema and Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly. In 1979 he and David Shire won an Academy Award for Best Song for It Goes Like It Goes from the movie Norma Rae. He has three songs in the BMI list of Top 100 Songs of the Century, The Girl From Ipanema, Killing Me Softly, and Canadian Sunset. A very prolific writer, he is responsible for the theme music to many TV shows including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Wonder Woman, and The Paper Chase. His movie credits include Norma Rae, Goodfellas, Johnny Dangerously, Crimes of Passion, Meatballs, and Chisum.
It has been said that there are two types of Brazilian music, Before Jobim and After Jobim. Born on January 25, 1927 Tom Jobim did not start studying music until 1941 and originally went to school to become an architect. In 1953 his first album was published. Before he died on December 8, 1994 he had written the songs for 28 individual albums, the scores for eight movies, and a number of single releases that appeared on other albums. After he died of a heart attack at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, his body was flown back to Rio where it was draped in a Brazilian flag and carried through the streets of Rio. He is buried in a tomb at the Sao Joao Batista Cemetery near his old friend Vinicius de Moraes.
Tom Jobim was married twice, Thereza Hermanny in 1949 and Ana Lontra in 1986. Vinicius de Moraes was officially married nine times. Once, Jobim asked of his friend, “After all, little poet, how many times do you have to be married?” Vinicius answered, “As many times as necessary”.
Born October 19, 1913 and died July 9, 1980, Vinicius de Moraes was a man of many interests. He was a poet, a writer, a lyricist, a musician, a film critic, a career diplomat, and a lawyer who studied English at Oxford University in Cambridge. As a diplomat he served in France, Uruguay, and the United States. In the US he was Consular at the Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles and while in LA he took the opportunity to study film under the tutelage of Orson Welles. He too is buried in the Sao Joao Batista Cemetery.
In 2001, Helô Pinheiro opened her “Garota de Ipanema” boutique in Sao Paolo catering mostly to women and offering a variety of beachwear. One of the products she offers is a T-shirt imprinted with the music and lyrics from the song. Since this is a copy of the original sheet music, it also contains the signatures of Vinicius de Moraes and A. C. Jobim. The estates of de Moraes and Jobim filed suit arguing that the words and music belong to the estates and that all monies made from the sale of those T-shirts belong to the families of de Moraes and Jobim. Fortunately for us romantics, the Brazilian courts acted properly. In February, 2004, the court ruled in favor of Helô Pinheiro stating “…without her there would not have been the song”.
Helô Pinheiro: the woman from Ipanema
How does it feel to have inspired one of the world’s most famous songs? As the track turns 50, Jonathan Watts talks to Helô Pinheiro
1 August 2012
In the early 1960s, a 17-year-old girl called Helô Pinheiro would walk past the Veloso bar on the beachfront of Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, every day. She was « tall and tanned and young and lovely » – and she was regaled by the men who drank there.
« When they saw me, they would whistle and shout out, ‘Hey beautiful girl! Come over here,' » says Pinheiro, the girl from Ipanema who inspired the song of the same name – which turns 50 today. « I did not know who they were until years later. » The barflies she ignored were the composer Tom Jobim and the poet Vinícius de Moraes, who turned desire and frustration into a track that is now second only to the Beatles’ Yesterday as the most recorded song in the world, a sultry hymn to unrequited lust that launched the bossa nova rhythm across the world.
Garota de Ipanema – the original Portuguese lyrics are far more poetic than the later English version – was first performed on 2 August 1962, at a small club called Au Bon Gourmet, by Jobim, guitarist João Gilberto and the vocal group Os Cariocas. Three years later, it was an international hit, Gilberto had become a Grammy-winning artist, and lovers across the world were smooching to a whole new rhythm: a mix of jazz, samba and African music known as bossa nova (which translates as « new trend »).
And everyone was asking: « Who’s that girl? » When the composers revealed their inspiration, Helô, as she is known in Brazil, was astonished. « I told them, ‘I don’t believe you. You are crazy. There are so many beautiful women here.’ But it was me. The song says tall. I am tall. And tanned – I had brown skin from the sun. And young – I was at this time. And I didn’t see them. It was true. »
Helô became friends with poet De Moraes, who she calls « a dreamer, a charmer who married nine times, who was so clever he became a diplomat ». And Jobim? He proposed to her. « Tom was different, » she says. « He was shy, he was beautiful, a maestro on the piano. But the two of them drank too much. They were always at the bar drinking whisky, caipirinha, beer. » She chose, instead, a steady life with an engineer; they are still married. Jobim, she says, never got over her. « One time, he went to Vinícius’s home and told him he only married his wife because she looked like me. He said that in front of her. He was crazy. »
Since then, the story of The Girl from Ipanema has morphed into something more akin to a Brazilian soap opera or courtroom drama. In 2001 – years after Jobim and De Moraes had died – their families filed a lawsuit against Helô for using the name Garota de Ipanema for a boutique she opened. « I cried so much, I suffered so much, » says Helô, who now lives in São Paulo where she works as a TV presenter, having trained as a lawyer and a journalist. « I tried, but they don’t want to speak to me. This situation is so bad. » The court ruled in her favour.
Although the song has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra (her favourite) to Ella Fitzgerald, from Amy Winehouse to Spike Milligan, Helô has received no direct financial benefit. But it has helped to make her famous. Later this year, she will release a biography and judge a competition in Rio to find a new « girl from Ipanema ».
She still loves the song. « It’s eternal. Whenever I listen, I remember my past, my younger days. Ipanema in 1962 was a great place. You never saw aggression. Everyone wanted to fall in love. It was the spirit of bossa nova – tranquil and romantic. Today, you don’t see composers in the bars and restaurants. There isn’t the same inspiration. »
The song follows her everywhere, but she does not mind being trailed by the ghost of her past. Two weeks ago, while travelling with her family in Europe, she heard it being played in a London pub where she was having lunch. Did she tell anyone she was the muse? « No, » she says. « I stayed quiet, eating my fish and chips. »
• Additional reporting by Carolina Massote
Olha que coisa mais linda
Mais cheia de graça
É ela menina
Que vem e que passa
Num doce balanço, a caminho do mar
Moça do corpo dourado
Do sol de Ipanema
O seu balançado é mais que um poema
É a coisa mais linda que eu já vi passar
Ah, porque estou tão sozinho
Ah, porque tudo é tão triste
Ah, a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
Que também passa sozinha
Ah, se ela soubesse
Que quando ela passa
O mundo sorrindo se enche de graça
E fica mais lindo
Por causa do amor
The Girl From Ipanema
Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes – ah
When she walks, she’s like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
That when she passes, each one she passes goes – ooh
(Ooh) But I watch her so sadly
How can I tell her I love her
Yes I would give my heart gladly
But each day, when she walks to the sea
She looks straight ahead, not at me
Tall, (and) tan, (and) young, (and) lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, I smile – but she doesn’t see (doesn’t see)
(She just doesn’t see, she never sees me…)
La Fille d’Ipanema
Regarde quelle chose plus belle
Et pleine de grace
Que cette fille
Qui va et vient
Dans un doux balancement, au bord de mer
Demoiselle au corps doré
Par le soleil d’Ipanema
Son déhanchement est plus qu’un poème
C’est la chose la plus belle que j’ai vue passer
Ah, pourquoi suis je si seul
Ah, pourquoi tout est si triste
Ah, la beauté qui existe
La beauté qui n’est pas seulement mienne
Qui aussi passe seule
Ah, si elle savait
Que quand elle passe
Le monde souriant se remplit de grace
A cause de l’amour